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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 11, 2013 10:30pm-12:31am EST

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is joseph willing to live in the greater d.c. metro area instead of where he is living now? this is part of what you are seeing. it is what you would call bommer omer guilt. i think things are better. from ward carroll the world war ii memorial on the mall in washington, d.c. veteranslking about issues all morning. just before the start of the weekend, eric shin sankey said he was slowing down a program aimed at the disability claims waiting to be processed. joining us to talk about mental
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health and other issues facing veterans is tom tarantino, a former army captain and current chief. announcement last weekend a good sign for veterans waiting for their benefits claims to be processed? guest: it was an expected announcement. the backlog has been reduced by about 1/3, which is outstanding news. there is some light at the end of the tunnel. we have about 400,000 claims still in the inventory. they were going to halt the mandatory overtime. we expect it to resume after the holidays in february. we have 400,000 claims. if they want to make their goal, it is going to require overtime and other initiatives that have
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put into gear that have started this trend downward. host: 400,000 claims that is down from 600,000 claims in march. talk about the impact of the government shutdown. how did that affect the claims? guest: it slowed it down. we averted a potential disaster. the processors were technically protected. the v.a. could not accept any new claims but they could continue to work. the reduction went down to a few thousand during those weeks. normally we were see numbers like 10,000, 11,000 a week. the shutdown hindered their ability to do it. it is not just about the v.a. they get information from all
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sorts of agencies that were affected. we would have seen them running out of any of the mandatory funds that had been appropriated. they would have had to stop paying benefits and furlough more workers. we could have seen it grind to a halt, which would've been potentially disastrous. host: you talk about wait times for veterans. here is a front page story talking about a different issue but involving wait times. "many veterans face frustrating delays for mental health care." the agency failed to schedule a third of appointments within 14 days." host: you did a survey that
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discussed mental health issues with those veterans you survey. what did you find? guest: mental health issues are impacted beyond those suffering from mental health injuries. 30% of our members said they knew someone who tried to commit suicide. this is an alarming number. the visible wounds go beyond those who were injured. you are looking at 20-something percent, and you added major depression and you're looking at 1/3.t overall' health care does a good job of providing health care. they are my health care provider.
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they have struggled in keeping up with mental health care. they were extremely understaffed. they have filled the 1500 remaining positions they were supposed to, but it depends on whether it is a counselor, psychiatrist. there isn't the full breath of care providers that you need to get coverage that is desired out there. veterans who are going to the v.a. are having trouble getting timely care. they are starting to look at building partnerships with nonprofits and health care providers locally. but this is a new program and we
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haven't seen the impact of this. with tomare talking tarantino of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america, talking about disability benefits, mental health issues that impact veterans coming back from the battlefield. if you want to talk about this subject, our phone lines are open. host: we will get right to the calls. farmington, minnesota, on our line femocrats ning >> caller: yes, i was a vietnam veteran. my younger brother was too. he died four years ago of cancer. -- there was a lot of
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problems with his paperwork when he got out of the marine corps. and he wasn't a very aggressive person. he had a lot of problems with life, marriages, this and that and the other thing. just a tough life in general, making a living. too. enough stuff,, as it turns out, really aggressive-type person. anyway, i finished college and so forth on the g.i. bill and everything. 4spent, in addition to my years in the navy, the last 20 years the minnesota national guard. i am a management consultant and i'm reaching the age where i'm thinking of retiring. but over the years i've hired a lot of employees for companies
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for management positions, supervisor positions, and so on and so forth. and i always knew that military , those that worked in some kind of purchasing or, you know, receiving, you know, those kind of jobs, they were very good logistics, that kind of thing. host: thanks for the call from minnesota. darwin brings up the g.i. bill and the hiring help you received over the way. -- he received over the way. about theobama talked g.i. bill and returning veterans. i want to play a little bit now. [video clip] doing everything we can to connect more businesses with highly skilled veterans. more help with job searches, more tools to connect veterans with job openings, chances to
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run licenses and credentials with civilian jobs, new tax credits for countries that hire wounded warriors, cash credits which congress should make permanent. america's businesses have worked with michelle and joe biden's joining forces campaign to help euros fine jobs in the private sector. they have hired or trained 290,000 a veterans and spouses and of committed to hiring 400,000 more. we are committed to giving today's veterans and their families the same shot at a great education my grandfather got when he came home from world war ii. we are helping them earn their degrees under the post-9/11 g.i. bill. we are setting new standards to protect against his honest reporting and predatory lending practices that target veterans -- and dishonest reporting and lendingry practices that target veterans. thanks to these efforts and the efforts of the private sector,
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we have made progress getting our events back to work, but we have got a lot more work to do. as more than one million of our troops returned to civilian life, we will have to work even harder, because of the skill, dedication, encourage of our troops is unmatched. when they come home, we all benefit from their efforts to build a stronger america and a brighter future for our kids. host: we are talking with tom tarantino of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. mr. tarantino, your group conducted a survey of over 400,000 iraq and afghanistan veterans earlier this year and you asked a few questions about the g.i. bill that the president and the last caller brought up. what did you find in terms of attitudes about the g.i. bill? guest: the g.i. bill is an incredible he popular program, and for good reason. i think in the last year or so, the problems they had with processing and wait times have started to go down. we will start you see -- we'll start seeing this next year, this winter semester, start
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seeing and work a lot more smoothly as the computer wrinkles are ironed out. but the point is that the g.i. bill has been a great success. one million veterans apply for benefits under the g.i. bill and he will transfer my generation -- it will transform a generation and it will help this generation readjust. the original g.i. bill was not called the g.i. bill. it was called the reinvestment and readjust and act. the idea is that it gives veterans structure to do something when they transfer it to civilian life and provides the needed buffer so that you are not just walking out of a battlefield and into an office. it also allows veterans to make up the gaps in some of their skills. the military spends billions of dollars teaching you an amazing skill set, but it doesn't teach you everything you need for the civilian world. the g.i. bill is a great benefit to get those few things that you don't need that you didn't get to learn and the military that you might need in your civilian career. twitter.uestion from you talked earlier in this
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segment about bbva and the processing of this ability claims. guest: the answer to that is yes. they have done both. the a has a completely new digital process. they're not even excepting paper. you file everything digitally now. the processing system, whereas before you would have wants us are working through a large envelope and then it would go to the next person and they would put it in a box and ship it to another building -- now it is all digital and you can have multiple processors looking at the same file at once. they've increased by several thousand of the amount of claims processors. forcesn't just a brute and ignorance method. this is a comprehensive adjustment in how they process claims entirely. we are hoping that as they work the bugs out of the new system, we will start seeing -- start
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regularly seeing claims get processed faster and hopefully in a few years -- i'm cautiously optimistic -- the backlogs could be a thing of the past. but we have to make sure that the v.a. has the resources that they need so that they can keep modernizing. this is in a six-month initiative and they are done. this is going to be a very long- term thing. host: alfred is up next from north carolina, a veteran on our .ine for democrats thanks for calling us money. tv down and gour ahead with your question or comment. all right, we will try to get back to alfred. is in providence, rhode island, also a veteran and an independent. good morning. caller: good morning. i am 100% disabled for ptsd. i was sexually assaulted. was, after a lot of work,
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given the ptsd therapist. i saw her 7 times. on the seventh visit, she told me she would only see me once every three weeks. instead of once every 2 weeks. i said no. she told me she wouldn't see me anymore. i went to the director of psychiatry in the hospital. he took her side. and now i have no mental health at all. the problem -- the v.a. has a lot of problems. and we are not getting proper care. lynn, thanks for the call in this money could tom tarantino from iraq and afghanistan veterans of america,
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our women veterans getting the care that they need? guest: not entirely, no. for yournk you service. this is in a couple of huge problem in our community. sexual assault has been rampant in the department of defense and the military. it has not been rampant in the last 2 years, it has been rampant in the last 40. everyone needs to start being honest about this, especially in the department of defense. their response has largely been treating sexual assault like it is something that occurred in the last two years and they need to get leadership around it and they can fix it. not true. it is a pervasive cultural problem, and there are several things we're trying to fix. for example, modernizing the electric justice system. this is senator joe brand -- senator gillibrand's bill. the military has been resistant to this because they have this mental inertia when it comes to change.
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our is something that allies across the world have done and it has been successful and it would put that her fidelity in the justice system theyat victims feel that will get a fair shake, their day in court, and they will report the crime. mentals of the follow-on health care, we are seeing extreme problems with men and women suffering from military sexual trauma not being able to get the care they need out of the v.a. this is largely because it is really hard to prove. until the last few years ago, records of sexual assault were routinely destroyed very quickly. iw they have to be kept for, think, 50 years for this is another bill that we're looking oore actd the ruth m that says that if you are in the military and you have diagnosis from sexual assault, we will assume it comes from your military service. we do this with agent orange manic -- poster
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posttraumatic, stress. lynn is right. this is a symptom of the v.a. health care not being where we needed to be. we are seeing other problems, such as opiate prescriptions at ava has risen to several hundred percent. this is where the demand for care is so high that hospitals can't keep up trade if you have a veteran who is coming in in pain, you want to do something. this isn't a nefarious thing. they want to help the veteran not be in pain. but there's not enough mental health care providers to treat the need. this is causing huge problems not just for mental health but all over the pa system. host: stats on military sexual assault. this is a headline from the "new york daily news." this is a story from last week. 3553 assault reports in the first three quarters of the last fiscal year, up from 2400 34 in the previous year, according to
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the defense department. from willow springs, north carolina, on our line for republicans. you are on with tom tarantino of iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. caller: good morning. i am from north carolina. i live 40 minutes from fort bragg and the air force base, and also, we have cap lejeune in jacksonville for the marines. i see every day on the news quite often these soldiers coming home, they have served their country, and they saw the family, they either kill the family or kill themselves because of the gst. -- because of ptsd. and the governor patrick for rehearing has defunded all mental health care -- pat mcrory has defunded all mental health care. i don't know where these people are supposed to turn to. it is pathetic to me that american people would let their people who served in war do this to them.
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friend who is 22 years old who watched his body blow his brains out in war in afghanistan. and that is very sad. 22 years old, he could not take the war and had to commit suicide. they need help and the unemployment rate here is horrible. like a do get a job, is dollars or nine dollars and hour. who can support the family on that? host: tom tarantino? guest: your point about suicide is extremely timely. it is an epidemic right now. not only is it a huge problem within the military, but in the veterans community it is about one suicide every hour or 22 a day. the problem is in the past we look at suicide, especially if you served in the military anytime before the last 2 years,
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it was always a powerpoint presentation, and suicide prevention was essentially telling guys just don't kill yourself. it looks at suicide as if the suicide itself is the problem. suicide is the end result of a string of problems and a string of failures. if you want to, suicide, especially in the veterans community, you have to make sure that health care is available, that mental health care is up to par, that there are employment opportunities, that all the things that end up failing to the point where the veterans get to that moment of despair don't fail. in the military, this is about training not generals and commanders, but those sergeants and those lieutenants and those how to looked guys for these signs and understand that if someone is struggling, someone is having a hard time, get to them before they hit that point of despair could this is a massive cultural change -- not just in the military but also within the veterans community and civil society because the
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civilian community doesn't do a very good job of this either. host: on twitter guest: a lot. unfortunately, the closest raw numbers we have are from 2004. but we know that this is a huge problem. the good news is that the justice system has responded incredibly well. there are over 160 veterans courts, which are specialty courts -- if you have offenses that are not necessarily violent but are definitely related to an untreated mental health or, injury, the combat court, rather than being adversarial or punitive, is focused on treatment. the veteran has pure mentors -- peer mentors there and the focus is on treatment.
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the recidivism rate for these crimes is virtually down to nothing, statistically zero. doingst about 1/8 less this then putting them in the jail or prison system or prison system where the mental health injuries would become worse. what is happening is that veterans are coming out transitioning much more successfully, and they are getting the treatment and care they need. this was completely driven by local courts. it started in buffalo with the judge who created the first veterans court, and it has swept across the country in a way because communities realize that not only is this a more effective way of dealing with a problem but it is more efficient and it is helping these veterans getting the care and services they need. from northis up next providence, rhode island, on our line for independents. caller: good morning, how are you? i'm a korean vet i spent 2 years in, and training and then i was sent overseas. we had trouble with the base because the base was full of mold.
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i went to the hospital and they send me paperwork, "you didn't go on sick call, then he went to sick call, then he went to the mike,al, you had asked pneumonia -- you had asked mike, neumonia." johnson went to the base and 200 beds, thenut 400 beds, then 800 beds. in, i hadhad a claim a hearing, the first of may. judge kennedy told me this should be handled in 30 days, 5.5 months ago. all they did was send me more paperwork, say i didn't go on the service, i had to prove it could i had to have my friend's wife write a letter stating that i'd served with him on a base. rhode island, as far as the veterans hospital -- let me tell you something, they put someone in charge over there which
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answers the phone who was supposed to be a nurse. he has no confidence in nothing. he tries to roll you over, no matter what you did. he changed my medicine and then set the doctor changed it. he did not change the medicine. he changed the medicine! host: concerns over getting buried in paperwork, this is something that in your server you are seeing concerns by the other veterans on this issue? guest: yes, this is a big problem. we talk about the disability claims backlog of 400,000 waiting over 125 days. we are not talking about the appeals. if you appeal your case, you're talking 2 to 4 years, and that .s if you are lucky the backlog is enormous and it has not been addressed yet and hopefully it is something that will get addressed soon. is thatiggest problem he went to a doctor, he had a condition, it was definitely
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environmental, totally related to his service. it should have been as easy as going into the medical records and seeing it. the problem is that the department of defense has not been very good about keeping medical records. the v.a., a completely separate branch of government, doesn't talk to the department of defense very well. what we have to do to fix that in the future is make sure that those records are completely seamless, so that your personnel and medical records from the department of defense can be viewed and used by the department of veterans affairs. the place that makes the veteran should talk to the place that treats the veteran coul. right now that is not really true. the v.a. is getting better at it and says that by next year their medical records system will be completely interoperable. i've been hearing this for the last five years, and we have spent half $1 billion trying to make this happen and they still haven't gotten it done. i would like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but this is totally inexcusable that the
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v.a. and dod can't talk to each other. the way they talk to each other right now just isn't working very well. this is something that has to get fixed, and it is about leadership, sitting down and within these fiefdoms the dod and v.a. to work together. host: talking about the v.a., on twitter host: is this an issue you effort of? -- an issue you have heard of? guest: i've never heard of a specific one is for denying claims. this has actually been a problem, where in years, where the backlog has been atrocious and the managers in the veterans administration have been getting bonuses. they canceled the bonuses while the backlog is still around which is appropriate, but the issue of bonuses is
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controversial, and bonuses are supposed to award performance, network. you get paid for your work -- to ward performance, not work could you get paid for your work. you get rewarded for performance. on our lineom maine for republicans, he is a veteran. thanks for calling in this morning. caller: you're welcome. i love the c-span. i have a question of how come veterans don't get reimbursed for the public stay at a hospital or the emergency room at a public hospital? a kind of gets held over there had sometimes. i was wondering why the v.a. won't pay for public hospitals like on the weekend, or you can get an appointment at the v.a. when it is an emergency and you have to go to the emergency room. that is my comment -- ah, my question. thank you. host: mr. tarantino.
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guest: this is actually a great question. technically, they are supposed to. if you go to the emergency room and you are registered with the v.a., a health care patient with them, you are in one of the isht categories, the v.a. supposed to reimburse you for emergency room care. what they see is that not everyone is supposed to get to a v.a. hospital. this is something that the v.a. is supposed to do, contracting with health care networks across the country so that if you have to get care outside the v.a. system or the doctors does not have the availability in the hospital or the agreement, you don't just come to some random doctor and help the v.a. -- hope the v.a. pays you back. you go to a network that has an agreement with the v.a. so this doesn't have a problem. the doctors, not only can they communicate and share records, which is also a huge benefit, but the doctors
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get paid and the doctors you are going to,, the v.a. knows who they are. it sounds like pretty basic stuff, but this is all very new in the v.a. and hopefully in the 3ext year what they call pc network will activate and veterans will be able to get care much easier than they are today. host: we are talking to tom tarantino, the chief policy officer of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. we have been talking about his survey that they conducted earlier this year. you can see that at and follow his group on twitter, @iava. a question from james on twitter to you. guest: there's a couple things. the inspector general in the v.a., which has been pretty aggressive, and then there is sort of outside rating agencies
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-- it is less about -- it is more about how effective the v.a. is as a medical system. the v.a. always gets extremely high ratings in terms of customer service and customer care. you bring up an interesting point. if you have a private hospital or state hospital, there are agencies within the state that inspect hospitals. they don't necessarily inspect is v.a. hospitals, which something that the inspector general and the federal government has to do. by and large the majority of v.a. health care is outstanding. we have seen serious problems at v.a. hospitals, such as in and the one in illinois a few years ago had huge problems. you have a health-care system in the v.a. that is broken up into 21 little kingdoms and most of them are fairly independent and we need to write those fiefdoms -- we need to break those fiefdoms down so that there is
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enforcement of standards and quality across the board and provide a more robust inspection network so that these few outlier hospitals that are doing funky stuff that held accountable and the veterans there don't suffer because of it. chicago, illinois, on our line for democrats. good morning. caller: good morning. mr. tarantino, one of the things i would like to bring to your attention is that the in him that's -- vietnam vets are forgotten vets. we were forgotten when we came ink, and i spent 2 tours vietnam, and we are still forgotten, still pushed back. i'm glad they're giving help to those trips that are coming back from iraq and afghanistan. but those of us who were in vietnam, we were not treated properly when we came back and we still are not. we are still pushed to the back of the line. i had problems and i didn't know
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anything about -- i had problems in vietnam that i didn't know anything about. i didn't know anything about ptsd or anything else that came with that. i found a claim after so many things -- years because of things i didn't know. it took 2 years to be in the system. i found it here in illinois. 2 years, my claim just floated around. then they sent it to another state. within one month of the time that other state received my claim, they disapproved it. so i appealed. and it has gone on over 2 years. it was in the system here. one month they send it to another state. back toed it, a came illinois, and it is going to be all most another year and i'm waiting to see some of to appeal. -- see someone to appeal could i'm involved with the medical center here is a problems that
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were made more difficult while i was in vietnam, in reference to my feet and my legs and everything. they are very quick to take an disapproved claims of the veterans who went for many years i didn't realize the realize -- and didn't the problems that they were having mentally and physically. they just quickly disapproved it. host: mr. tarantino? guest: yeah, this is a big problem, and i'm glad you bring this up, because the majority of backlog claims are actually vietnam veterans. alot of this is because of lot of the past that practices time to v.a., from digitize these records -- you have one-foot-long before those of medical records that the v.a. has to sift through. there've been processing problems. i get to do this job because of them.
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my organization exists because of vietnam generations grabbed my boss early on and said, hey, this is what you have to do. they really led the way and showed us how to be advocates. posttraumatic stress exists as a mental condition in the diagnostic book because of a vietnam veterans. hating the way, -- paving the w ones thatere the allowed this generation to be as successful as we have been. the debt of gratitude is immense. one thing i want to say about the vietnam generation and v.a. health care and disability is we have to start refocusing on this . vivienne on generation just turned on average age 66 -- and the vietnam generation just turn on average age 66. in the world war ii generation hit retirement age, we saw an uptick in usage of v.a. health care and mental health conditions and disability. as they are retiring, guys are
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remembered, especially as there is a war going on as their was back then. we have to start refocusing on the care for vietnam veterans because they are our brothers and sisters in arms and we have to make sure that we care for them as well as we are coming for the vet -- caring for the vet and get some from afghanistan tomorrow. west james from virginia, democrat. caller: how are you doing? host: good. you are on with tom tarantino. caller: i'm a returning iraq vet, came back in 2001. i've been diagnosed with severe chronic ptsd. i don't know exact what it is, except that it makes me have a heightened sense of awareness that i guess that comes from being through war. share one thing that is affecting a lot of these young boys to come home. i was staying in martinsburg, west virginia the moment.
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when i went to war, then- president george w. bush that we would have -- that we wouldn't have red tape when we came home and that the great citizens of america would do whatever they could to help us and that red tape wasn't justifiable. my extremes was this -- experience was this -- i took it to the troopers, and they locked me up and told me that no care about the paper, all they want to do is put me in jail. i'm saying this to say that i feel like i'm still at war. and it is wrong. we've got a lot of soldiers back here. i don't understand this killing yourself, but then again, i don't know what the situation is. a lot of times it is what happens when they come home. host: tom tarantino, in our last 30 seconds here. guest: this points out that we still haven't gotten this figured out.
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the world today for veterans is better than it was six or seven years ago. health care is better, the disability process is getting better, we have a system of veterans courts, the g.i. bill is running at full steam could but we are not quite there yet. problems finding jobs, veterans still need the care and services to transition from warrior back to civilian. we will never be truly successful until as a country we wrap our arms around that and it will be difficult considering that the veterans population is dynamically shrinking. on veterans day of all days, we can't forget that there are men and women who fight for us and we have a moral and practical obligation to make sure they come home from war and transition back home safely and soundly. host: tom tarantino is with the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america,
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the core of al qaeda is on the path to the feet. our nation is more secure, and our homeland is safer. the men and women like the soldiers who are soon to be veterans, i met a few months ago , he deployed twice and survive not once but -- pcs me, at three separate ied implosions. and when she was well enough
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should deploy it again. this time to afghanistan where she was often the only woman in our force operating base. she proudly wears the combat action-come up committed to helping other one did warriors recover from trawls of war. helping the troops, she says, is what i'm all about. my fellow americans, that is what we should be all about. our work is more urgent than ever because this chapter of war is coming to an end. singh, one of the first rays arrive afghanistans of years ago , a brigadier general daniel, will leave his can't -- lead is camp pendleton marines as they become one of the last major groups of marines deployed in this war. of the coming months more of our troops will come home. by this time next year the
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transition that afghan-led security will be nearly complete . >> on that next washington journal, trump's from other countries. >> in a few moments a hearing on hurricane sandy recovery efforts. in a few hours the international monetary fund learns about lessons from the financial crisis. after that the senate foreign relations committee considers the disabilities street. a law that, if ratified, lakes
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and the disability rights of americans to disabled people in other countries. >> this weekend, book tv looks back at a life-and-death of our 305th president on the 50th anniversary of his assassination , meaning saturday at 1:30 p.m. eastern with authors martin sandler, irish stock, jeff greenfield, and robert geller, plus an author's panel relives november 22nd 1963, all part of book tv this weekend on c-span2. and don't forget, book tv book club wants to know what kennedy books your reading. post your thoughts in our chat room. at / book club. >> next, i hearing on hurricane sandy recovery efforts. senators last week heard from fema administrator and housing secretary sean donovan testifying for two hours.
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[silence]e ommittee >> to the subcommittee on the emergency management and governmental relations in the district of columbia, we thanke you all for being here and arewe here today to examine the recovery in the northeast one year after hurricane s&p cameame ashore october 29th 2012. as we mark this we owe it tole ourselves and to those who were lost a year agoves and to thosee lost a year ago to continue to learn from sandy, to improve disastrous response and recovery across the country. as we all know, the next big disaster can happen at anytime, anywhere. my home state of alaska, we have our fair share of disasters from the gulf, from the alaska earthquake to the oil spill. we saw a along the yukon river.
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the ongoing recovery is a testament in the same type of federal, state, and local coronation that was so crucial to the months following hurricane sandy. as cochair of the national preparedness month, which wrapped up at the end of september, i believe it is also important to remember that individuals play a large role in preparing their communities for disasters. following sandy we saw citizens from around the country donating their time, money, resources, and expertise to help the affected area. nonprofit organizations like the red cross mobilized volunteers and leverage nongovernmental resources. it is in this whole community response that proves to be the best practice in large disasters. alaskan state care -- alaskans take care of our neighbors. we understand that the
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interconnected infrastructure is both this countries to get asset and our biggest vulnerability. anddisasters begin locally their effects can reach beyond established geographic boundaries. one of the most critical aspects of the recovery process following a disaster is learning from mistakes and integrating those lessons learned. since hurricane katrina, fema has worked with other members of the federal family to institutionalize recovery reforms. the agency has released the national disaster recovery framework just last year and it is already in used in states across the country, including my home state of alaska. all agencies were presented here today have illustrated a fierce anditment to response recovery. i applaud their efforts but we can do better. our responsibility of an oversight committee is to make sure we do better. leave we require oversight is the financial management of the sandy supplemental funding.
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approved $50 billion to aid with response to recovery by 19s, being performed federal agencies. assuring this money is spent in a timely fashion is critical. as we know there are many communities and individuals still in need over a year from the storm. we also must assure that at -- that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. federal agencies must be accountable for their expenditures and must be prepared to communicate exactly how these funds are being used. don't advocate for burdensome reporting requirements the slowdown recovery. controls exist to protect our national investment. must assure that laws and regulation, mitigation, and response -- this must be the top priority. i look forward to hearing the testimony from today. we are doing something a little
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different. we will have senator paul interrupt the flow, allowing him his opening statement. we have invited members who are not members of the committee to also artistic pay. having senator landry here, who was affected by katrina in her community -- i have asked members to make sure that -- we will have your full statements in the record and then a reminder that we want to hear from any of our folks here to testify. i will do an order of appearance. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i am going to leave my comment weekly, submit my full statement to the record, and honor the delegation from the northeast that is here. the work of senator menendez angela brand was essential to this recovery effort. of course, welcome senator .rooker to the committee the former mayoral write-in the middle of the storm as it occurs -- i'm sure you can bring
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expertise to the senate and this committee as we struggle to build a better response to disasters of all sorts, man-made or natural. medium, and catastrophic, which was clearly the case of katrina and came very close in sandy. we have a long way to go. but i appreciate the work of this special subcommittee. it is what mayors and county commissioners and chambers of commerce and individual families and consumers and residents -- the citizens count on us to do our best work. in times of disaster they know their government will be there for them and helping them to recover. i will submit my full statement to the record but really think the northeast delegation for their extraordinary work in recovery. we managed to get a little bit of money out of the bill in louisiana to keep going with our ongoing permanent recovery of the many storms that hit our
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state. very much.u senator paul does not have an opening statement but i thank him for attending and being part of this. he is the ranking member and it is important we continue to analyze all of these issues related to the emergency response of our country. senator brooker is next great he is so new that you can tell by his sign plate. or he just brought his own as a former mayor. senator menendez, you were not supposed to say that. we wanted him to learn that process. i will start with you and go to senator menendez. --first of all [indiscernible] not only to i appreciate the opportunity to participate, but this is clearly my first hearing as a senator.
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it could not be more according to the people of my state. that's more important to the people of my state. i want to thank those testifying, including secretary donovan, who has been a partner with me on many issues. i look for to working with him even closer now. i look forward to hearing what he has to say as well as those others who are testifying today, especially mr. few gate -- mr. fugate. in the aftermath of hurricane sandy, many people in this room played such critical roles, holding all table hearings and advocating for robust federal ensure that new jersey, new york, and although states affected had the resources and support they needed. on behalf of the people of new jersey i think everyone for their leadership and for your recognition that much urgent work had to be done. i want to especially acknowledge my senior senator, senator menendez. he is a true champion of our
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.tate as a mayor who had significant impact and loss of life, he was a champion of the whole state and every community that was suffering. from day one you are crisscrossing the state, ship shepherding -- shepherding desperate resources to new jersey. there's no denying the process we have made -- the progress we have made. low-interest loans, national flood insurance program payments and public assistance grants. in new jersey we are resilient, we are determined, and we are incredibly resourceful. our famous boardwalks have welcomed families and tourists to the jersey shore. hoboken, atlanta city, and newark are bustling with activity. emily's and business people continue to pick up the pieces
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and move forward. still, far too many are recovering and it is challenging. it is a daily struggle. from a little fairy in north jersey were we were -- where we were, thousands remain out of their homes. countless businesses have been washed away in the storm and have not been reopened. in july i visited orderly beach. there were many signs of birth -- of rebirth. houses that stood like skeletons on the roadside, the sots intact but insides gutted. many of the residence i spoke to felt left behind and forgotten by washington. they were still in pain. any of them had challenges not just with d.c. but with trent. i know no one in this room has forgotten those families. have soind us that we much more work to do. in new jersey we have an
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estimated gap of 28.3 billion dollars between what is needed for a full recovery and what we are receiving in federal support. this number considers residential and commercial sector support reimbursement of municipalities and activities. though congress passed a release package in the aftermath of the storm, billions of dollars in federal assistance have yet to make their way to families in need. once they run federally run packages, the reason that the reconstruction mitigation grant program provides up to $150,000 to individual families, critical dollars to help them rebuild their homes. this 600t week, million dollar program had yet to make even a single payment. the logjam in federal funding's is devastating. indeed the delay has put lives on hold and entire families were uprooted from their homes.
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small businesses still shudder. and iments postponed, have heard directed from any of those affected painful stories of strong people struggling against incredible odds that determined to make it one way or another. there is understandable concern as i go across my state. they speak of a bureaucratic maze that forces those impacted by the storm to complete reams of what seems to be unnecessary paperwork sometimes just to be considered for federal aid. they detail stringent regulations that lead to little to no flexibility. they worry about impending flags -- impending hikes in their rates as well. we must increase our sense of urgency to get funding out the door as quickly as possible, while still remaining goods stores of taxpayer dollars and always protecting against fraud. it is critical that we provide and toble grant programs
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avoid something that has been championed but i -- by the people to my right, were rooted bring -- where we would bring in economic concern. recovery from a national disaster of this magnitude is a very long process. it is not easy. thosed as it seems for here who have been toiling for over a year to make this work. , we can make sure it is much much harder for the new jersey -- we can assure you it is much much harder for the thousands of new jersey business owners and families. commitment to them is to join with all of you to ensure the folks from the -- to everywhere in between get the health they -- the helpalth they need, the help they respect, and the help they deserve.
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thank you. >> thank you very much. i have senator menendez next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. since you are going to include our full statement for the record i am not going to go through it all. or are a couple of points i want to highlight, particularly for the committee's consideration as it moves forward in thinking about future disasters. we just say i am thrilled to be here with my colleagues from new york, who were extraordinary in our joint effort to fight for the resources for recovery in our area. i remember my late colleague, a member of this committee that was passionate about this issue -- i appreciate then mayor ohchr doing an extraordinary -- then- mayor ohchr doing an extraordinary job. doing anbooker extraordinary job. you really test
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the mettle of leadership. we appreciate his leadership in this regard and look forward to having him work in with us and continue to recover. i want to commend the hud the transportation department, fema, there were many successes. there are many people who are hurting and they continue to language -- to language. there are those who find themselves in new flood zones that mean the ability to keep their home and what they have built in their lifetime is known the crosshair because of new
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requirements to either raise their homes and or a variety of other issues as well. there is a responsibility to ensure that when we give out the taxpayer cost money, even in a disaster, that we do it in a way that ultimately ensures the integrity of that money. that has to be balanced by the urgency of now. i appreciate that, hopefully part of what the task force is doing is how we do this prospectively. for disasterwait to figure out what the appropriate programs are needed to set up in response. trying to balance the integrity of the money with the need and urgency of now has been a challenge. there has still been too much money flowing to the state that does not quite flow to the people of new jersey. we need to do a better job of
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that. and the one thing i do want to take the balance of my time to talk about, and i appreciate virtually all of my colleagues and the chair having joined us, is the natural of, not the disaster we face, but the man- made disaster we have if we do not rectify it. that is the question of flood insurance. forreality is that thousands of people in new is an around-ry the-clock effort. new jersey families and others in the nation, as he saw by the broad bipartisan support, have been hit with a triple whammy. they were first flooded by sandy and lost their homes, their lifetime of effort, many memories of a lifetime, and then the second was they had to face repair and mitigation costs and they are thirdly,
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facing astronomical increases in flood insurance costs built into the flood reform bill that was passed before sandy hit. the fact is that the combination of updated flood maps and the phaseout of premium subsidies for the national flood insurance program buttons to force victims out of their homes and destroy -- threatens to force victims out of their homes and destroy communities. homeowners would be forced to pay premiums several times higher than the current rate. and those that cannot afford the higher premiums will be forced to sell or be priced out of their home, which will drive down property values and local revenues at the worst possible time. so i want to take the opportunity to promote a partisan legislation -- a bipartisan legislation that seeks to take a timeout, that seeks to say, we asked fema to do and affordability study. we shouldn't have premium that
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-- premium increases until that affordability is done and we find and affordability mechanism so we can keep the solvency of the program, but also create affordability so people do not lose their homes and be the victims of a natural disaster. ist, mr. chairman, i think one of the most urgent things. i look forward to your help and the help of our colleagues. >> thank you very much. senator jill brandt. -- senator gillibrand. m a i want to get a special thanks to senator landrieu, who i have dubbed the third senator from new york. she was such a visit for us advocate for our families. she made sure we could fix as many things in a dance to make sure recovery flowed on the make sure all of the logjams she experienced with hurricane katrina did not happen in new york, new jersey, and other states. she is someone who understands what works and what doesn't work. i just want to thank her for her
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andinued focus on recovery preventing and creating resiliency. her leadership has been extraordinary. want to thank senator menendez and senator schumer. strongernever seen champions than my colleagues to put themselves in the shoes of every family and advocates for what they need most. i want to thank them for their leadership in i know senator booker will not only state -- will stand in issues but he will be the same strong advocate. he has shown it as mayor and i know you will shun it as senator. obviously, the road to recovery is long and hard. new yorkers are strong. areebuild, we rebuild that -- rebuild better, we rebuild stronger. we lost 61 lives. we lost hundreds of thousands of small businesses.
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we lost 300,000 homes. i remember senator landrieu, who suffered far more loss of life, cannot quite conceive of the loss we separate at home because our population was so dense. our road to recovery was difficult and different. our solutions are difficult and different. i think what you're doing is essential to meeting our goals. congress is try to work hard on a couple of problems and did a few things that were necessary. we extended the critical deadline to give sandy survivor's the time they needed to document the losses, which is difficult for some families. we did ease regulations that would have invented substantially damaged homes from acquiring excess of funds. this is something that senator schumer was very aggressive on, very early on. there were a lot of projects that the army corps has designated as necessary.
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he made sure that it was not funded. we have to do so much more. that is what the senators have already talked about, have touched upon. we have to continue to assure that the red tape does not get in the way of reimbursements. we need to make sure that these communities can get the financing and the money they need. we has to make sure that homeowners, individual homeowners receive the kind of resources that they need to build. the senate must pass legislation that we have cosponsored to delay flood insurance premium increases. these increases are set to take affect and no one can afford them. they are of -- they are on affordable for nearly every new yorker i have spoken to. you cannot have a flood insurance program that is too expensive for everyday americans. it just does not work. we must do that. has completed the study we can look at it and
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congress can help make a plan on how to raise the affordable -- given as homeowners are rebuilding their seeing this increase. many new yorkers may not be able to rebuild. they are homeless. as we continue to recover from sandy we need to throw that we need to strengthen the resilience for our future storms. this is not the first nor the last superstorm. as we see storms come and more violently, more damaging, more lives lost, we know what is to come. when we rebuilt would have to rebuild for the future storm. -- when we rebuild we have to rebuild for the future storms. called theed a bill strong act, we introduced it in the ep w committee. it is a bipartisan bill. it is the kind of bill that builds on the progress that mary landrieu and others have been making on these storm recovery efforts.
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thatso do something engages the local government by requiring the government to develop strategies. we have come a long way in the last year. as i have said, we have so much more to be done. reports of how few homeowners have been actually able to rebuild, it breaks your heart. new yorkers want to rebuild, they want to rebuild stronger but they need your help. >> thank you very much, senator schumer? >> thank you mr., chairman. -- thank you mr. chairman. senator landrieu has been invaluable. we have learned from the mistakes that were made in katrina and she was our guide as we went through this. i want to thank my colleagues here. we were a great team. ,hey made the impossible getting $60 billion -- we were
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held up for a two. -- ray too long -- for a too long. bang -- too long period of time. i want to welcome senator booker . he will fill large shoes as a member. i want to say to the five of you, i have worked closely in making sure getting things worked -- making things work. have done a public service at the federal and city level. and i thank you for that and look forward to continuing to work. i can think of accomplishments on each of you that we have done together in terms of negotiating and getting things done. , jok you to shaun donovan holloway.ey, cas keep an eye on us.
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well, you know, there's so much here. first, there's a question how is it going? it's going, overall, very well. amount of money that has been spent and allocated is .arge and at least up till now, and let's hope it continues, we seen a major misspending of money. we wanted to avoid the scene of trailers being unused which happened despite mary landrieu's great efforts in louisiana. and then what she warned us of as well, lots of money sitting be used.t couldn't so the way we structured these programs, particularly cdbg but corps's programs, the transportation programs, the fema programs as well, was to make sure that the money would go where it had to go and go quickly but without wasting
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money. so i know there was a move -- money should be spent in three months. if that were happening, there still millions of people, or thousands of people, complaining that they didn't get needed because it wouldn't have been allocated carefully and properly, and there would have been lots of newspaper reporters writing about, oh, all the misspent money. that.en't seen so it's taken longer than we would like. and it is certainly true that not gotten the money that we would like to see them have gotten more quickly. but i believe while the first year was one of laying the , makinge and recovery sure the roads were cleared, making sure people had electricity, making sure rents hundreds ofr the thousands of people who were pushed out of their homes, the year -- first year was recovery, but second is rebuilding. flowingy is flowing and well, and flowing, i think, in a way that it will be better used than in any major public
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disaster in the history of this country. will se wners see $1.4 billion. didold many of them, we all together, lay out the money to rebuild and you will be repaid. the combination of the fema program, which is fairly rigid cdbg program which is more flexible, will lead to that happening. now, it couldn't happen for a lot of reasons. first, people did have to rebuild. second, we weren't going to pay shouldivate insurance step up to the plate. so we had to see how much private insurance people were getting. what we made sure of is if your was $100,000 and your fema money was $10,000 and your insurance was $40,000 and you had a $50,000 gap that cdbg money will be there. good thing. second, we worked really hard to make sure that there were processes put in housing and transportation and in everything else we did. we rebuild, we'll be
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much more resilient against a future storm, which has been said will happen. and we've done that. and that makes a great deal of sense, too. i predict that the second be aof sandy recovery will year when people see lots of r rebuilding. by the end of year two people will be a whole lot happier with the program than year one,t the end of but it's because of the good ,ork that we all did together the five of us here. cory, of course, doing his work in newark. of us at the federal level and those of you back there. it's been a strong team effort that i believe will be regarded as one of the most successful aforts in terms of getting large area to recover from a horrible storm as well and as quickly as possible.
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>> thank you, senator. of first to speak secretary hud, secretary donovan, and has served in the position since 2009. alaskaou for coming to as you have done before. you i know you have a personal of what happens in new york. let me turn it over to secretary donovan. >> chairman, senators, it is a pleasure to be joining you today. rememberinggin by that last week on the one-year anniversary of hurricane sandy paused to remember all of those who lost their homes, their businesses, and tragically lost their lives. i remember visiting the region struck andthe storm being stunned by the breadth of destruction. $65 billion in damage and
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650,000 homess, damaged or destroyed, 9 million people lost power. was clear that the road to recovery would be long and difficult. but if you know anything about region, androm this i'm proud to count myself as one of them, it's that they are resilient. knocked down, but they always get back up. after sandy, they began the work their lives and communities back together and president obama pledged his these legal efforts in order to ensure a full recovery. thee create -- we created taskforce to maximize cabinet level coordination in support of region. to rebuild this i have been enormously proud to chair this effort as we worked basic goals.o one, to get the assistance that au all fought so hard to make reality, to communities as quickly as possible. immediate needs. and, second, to ensure that the region rebuild stronger and than before so that it's
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better equipped to deal with future storms. let me begin with the work of getting assistance to communities quickly and effectively. as you know, in january, working with all of you in the congress, state leaders fought tirelessly to get $50 billion in funding inlemental order to aid victims of the storm. it's been a priority to get these dollars into communities quickly and responsibly as possible. that's why we thought it was critical to include several the supplemental that facilitated more efficient spending of these dollars. i want to particularly call out senator lan landrieu for all ofr .elp and assistance on this a few examples. giving hud the authority to duplicative environmental reviews. as a result of these and other measures, we made great progress number of fronts. more than 230,000 people in small businesses have received assistance from fema, the small business administration, labor.artment of more than 99% of sandy-related
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national flood insurance policy totaling more tha than $8 million have been paid filed policyholders who claims. 97% of public beaches in the affected region were opened by memorial day 2013, sending a strong message that the shore was ready for business. when you include the national flood insurance program, the administration has nearly $40 billion in funding for recipients with $13.5 billion of this already paid out. hud in particular, has allocat allocated $10 billion in community development block grants including an allocation that took place within eight the sandye signing of supplemental into law. this it represented the fastest the allocation following signing of an appropriations bill. so relief is getting to communities. said, weu have all know it can never be fast enough. that's why we've been creative work with ways to local partners to expedite the rebuilding process. businessudes the small administration's work to
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accelerate application processing times which has ok's during -- abouto 42 days, a drop of 1/3. the use of a streamlined permit and review process for complex, infrastructure projects that's based on a model which is implementationed times by 51%. one example, cutting three to five years off the projects like the tappan zee bridge. of foreclosure prevention policies in disaster-effected areas making stay in homes at such a critical time in their lives. and the establishment of a minimum flood risk reduction standard across the for majorvernment sandy rebuilding projects, representing the first time a standardovernment-wide has been set that accounts for the effects of rising sea levels we'll moving forward, continue to look for new ways to remove unnecessary barriers and headaches, ensuring that the that flow into the
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region are put into use as quickly and efficiently as possible. our other goal, rebuilding stronger and smarter so that the region is better prepared to withstand future storms. on august 19, the taskforce released our rebuilding strategy included 69on which recommendingions to do just that. it included steps to harden our producer grid and our fuel supply chain to address the sawge and gas lines we during sandy and steps to help families and small businesses times. in these new the strategy also identifies ways to leverage additional private funds to support infrastructure projects. investing in projects that will make our communities more resilient is vital to their safety. it's also good for our economy. as senator guillen brand point out, we know for every dollar we spend, we save $4 in avoided costs in future storms. recommendation in this strategy has a detailed implementation plan, and i and my department will be accountable to the region to you, to see them through. and we will stay at it for as takes knowing that
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eventually we'll emerge stronger and more vibrant than ever. earlier,ioned following sandy, it was clear that the road to recovery would long and difficult. we made significant progress. families have gotten back on their feet, businesses reped o, communities turning the page and looking to the future. that much more work needs to be done. all of us in the obama administration are committed to local partners and with all of you to continue to get assistance to those in the rebuilding, ensure the region is better prepared to withstand future extreme weather improve ourwork to recovery efforts across the nation. these are goals i look forward this committee on and i look forward to answering your questions today. thank you. >> thank you very much. person i have on the list is has served as a deputy dot since 2009 before becoming the deputy secretary he served twice as a secretary of the maryland of transportation. thank you very much for being here. >> thank you, chairman. and members of the subcommittee.
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it's a pleasure to be here today to highlight the department of innsportation's role assisting the communities that were devastated by hurricane sandy a year ago. hit, thehurricane damage it caused didn't just take a tragic human toll it also blow to thestating regional transportation system which is the life blood of the region's economy. the aviation side, three of the busiest airports in the country flights were effected. the highway system, as well, suffered significant damage. stands apart is this historic storm triggered the worst public transit natural disaster in the history of the united states. disaster,e to this congress passed the disaster radio he leaf appropriations act included $12.4 billion in aassistance for transportation .rograms it's worth noting that assistance was reduced b to$6,750,000,000 due requestions taking - taking -- $650 million, due to sequestration.
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program proy relief prosed by president obama in 2011, later authorized by our map 21.tation bill this emergency relief program for transit was in place for about 30 days before the hit.ter in addition to helping transit repairs,make immediate the program also supports mitigation activities that will improve resiliency and help transit infrastructure resist future.storms in the disaster relief appropriations funding also went to fix the transportation network as well, roads and bridges, restore amtrak service, mentioned, repair airport facilities at newark, guardia and -- la j.f.k. to date, the department of transportation allocated nearly $7 billion for repairs and resiliency efforts in response to sandy. we've learned a lot from the hurricane experience that will help us respond to future even events. andt, a coordinated efficient federal response is
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essential. president obama's hurricane rebuilding taskforce has helped all the federal agencies involved work together to best possible outcomes for the communities effected by the storm. donovan's leadership has been important in moving forward. second, hurricane sandy and recent disasters underscore the nation's vulnerability to extreme weather climatender current conditions. that's why one of our top priorities moving forward is to existingotect transportation infrastructure and equipment from the impact of future natural disasters it just makes sense if we're going to spend money rebuilding transportation, let's build it last. we'll soon be issuing a notice forunding availability capital projects that will reduce the risk of damage from future disasters in the region impacted by hurricane sandy. we're going to do that on a competitive basis. these investments in resiliency will help reduce the need for any future recovery efforts. and has been previously pointed
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out, research has shown every on actionst by fema to reduce disaster loss now saves the nation almost $4 in impacts. we're hoping to realize similar americanngs for the taxpayer by ensuring that our transportation infrastructure is futureo withstand storms. however, i must caution the need investment far exceeds the available funding. emergency has only relief funds available for hurricane sandy recovery efforts and nothing nationwide beyond that. leaves us without any ability at the department to address our next crisis, emergenciesture occurring outside this region. much of my own career has been at the state and local level. i know firsthand how important respond quickly and effectively. i strongly encourage congress to appropriate funds so that when the next disaster strikes and takes public transportation offline, we'll be in a
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position to respond immediately. i thank the subcommittee for meg t -- inviting me to testify. thank you. >> thank you very much. mr. craigpeaker is fugate who was confirmed for the fema administration -- in 2009 after serving as the director of the florida division of emergency management. managed the largest federal disaster response in florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state. thank you very much. good to sigh again. chairman.ou, mr. senators. secretary donovan laid out a lot of the numbers. to come back to what you have done to set the stage for what we were able to do as a federal government and then our next steps. withoing to start something that you're not hearing a lot about, but i think it's important we talk about. the continuous support and fulling for -- funding for state and local and grants and emergency management grants building the capability at the and local level to manage
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the impacts of these types of disasters. the federal, government could not have done its job if our state and local partners weren't able to do theirs. so this is one thanks for the investment over time specifically since 9/11, those investments are paying off in capability and resiliency our communities have against all hairs yards. the -- hazards. we would not have been prepared to respond without the formation i doubt very much i would be here testifying. that law substantially changed fema mission was, requirements of the person that has chosen to lead the organization, as well as the wait untilred to not states are overwhelmed before the federal government can mobilize. this put us in the position under the president's leadership and playssources before any state was hit by the storm, before we knew how devastating this was going to be. again, those tools set the stage
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for the response and support of local government. but the other part of that, which we oftentimes talk about the supplemental, overshadows something i think is fundamental, a change to the stafford act. and that was the sandy recovery act.vement many of the issues that we still had, that became impediments to recovery. probably one of my best examples debris.n we were actually increasing the cost of removing debris because and policy that said if you use your folks and your public works department to we're not going to reimburse you for those costs. only their overtime. to do hire a contractor that we'll pay you the full cost share on that. these tools that we began to implement. we have used them in disasters post. these were not sandy specific, but sandy became the catalyst of we would be better stewards
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of getting money out effectively and state local governments to rebuild faster tohout losing the ability maintain the fiduciary responsibility of ensuring that the dollars go towards the intended to go. we have used these not only in but in some of these that we were allowed to go to previous disasters, where we've to use estimating tools in vermont to did a big challenging project there. do somebeen able to things that quite honestly they gaves made sense, but you us the tools. fewalthough it was only a tribes impacted, this came after sovereignhink for our federally recognized tribes also something that was very unheralded. finally gave federally recognized tribal governments the recognition of their sovereignty that no longer requires them to go through a state to request declarations. that programented
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after the law was signed. the first tribal government that the eastern band cherokee. we did not wait for the rules to catch up. we did not wait for our to catch up. we implemented the law as intended and have successfully declarationsster at the request of tribal governments. we have a lot of work to do. only -- we tend to look at one-year marks. but i knew going in this was multi-year recover rix think senator schumer said it right, that the first year is initial stepsse where you see a lot of progress in the beginning and then it starts to slow down. because now we're starting to the rebuilding. and from the president's direction on down, what we want rebuild for is we the future and not the past. that we can make these improvements and make investments that we may spend a the front more in end, but we assure the delivery of critical services and future.ucture in the and then lastly, senator theinez, again, we agree
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administration's position on the reauthorization of flood insurance programs, we needed to affordability, but we found that in the legislation past, we to allowave the tools us to use that to build affordability o before the took so, again, we look forward to working with congress to get a allows us not to keep kicking the can down the road but address affordability for live in their homes but also ensure we're not the same way, putting people and future generations at risk. thank you. chairman, martinez was my former colleague from florida. >> sorry, senator mendez. >> we're both cuban but we don't all look the same. >> yes. sorry. >> great. thank you very much. >> let me also say i really withciate the work you did the tribes. that's a huge opportunity. thank you for that. ist person i have ms. jo-ellen darcy, assistant secretary of the army civil primaryich is supervision over the u.s. army
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corps of engineers. prior to her appointment, ms. darcy served as the advisor to the senate finance committee conservation,rest energy issues. good to sigh again. thank you. you, senator. thank you for the opportunity today to testify on the corps's continued working on the recovery from hurricane sandy. the federal support during the response to sandy was unprecedent. the corps was part of an interagency team to include governmentscal which provided technical assistance and rapid response activities across the impacted areas. the disaster relief appropriations act of 2013 withded the corps $5.35 billion to address damages caused by hurricane sandy. tos money's being used reduce future flood risk and increase the long-term the coastalty of ecosystem and communities while reducing the economic costs and with largeiated floods and storms. the corps has made significant progress in the year since hurricane sandy.
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and in the time since the passage of the appropriations bill. the corps's hurricane sandy recovery program has three major components. first, it's our near-term component that supports repaircy operations and and restoration of previously constructed corps projects along dredging federal navigation channel and repair of corps-operated structures. secondly, investigations component that expedites the completion of ongoing studies at federal expense and funds the north atlantic coast comprehensive study. our construction component rehabilitates, repairs, and constructs projects to reduce future flood and storm damage risk in smarter and more .ustainable ways as part of the near-term component, the corps started restoration ofd existing projects along the atlantic coast in february of to3 and is scheduled conclude these actions by the fall of 2014. to date, the corps has placed
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approximately 12 million cubic yards of sand to repair dunes workerms and will continue to restore them to their original designed conditions. obligatedcorps has almost $390 million to restore damage projects. the total 33 projects in this phase, seven are completely have been -- have awarded contracts, construction contracts, and four are in the pre-award stage. near-term efforts also include addressing the storm's impacts navigation infrastructure. the corps's operations and maintenance work began in of 2013, and most projects are scheduled for completion by the spring of 2015. fiscal year 2013, the corps had obligated over this work withr 35 projects completed and 28 in construction. for the investigations component, the corps is using funding to expedite completion of 18 flood and storm damage reduction studies in the northeast that were underway occurred.
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$20 million of the investigation funding is for the comprehensive will assess 31,000 miles of the north atlantic coastline bringing and coastalerts planning, engineering and science from more than 90 academic, and non-governmental entities. the comprehensive study team has developed a draft framework currently under review. and the results of the study, we think, will inform our future -- efforts. the corps was also directed to conduct a performance evaluation study to evaluate the effectiveness of completed corps projects during hurricane sandy to include summary recommendations for future improvements. i signed the transmittal of this this morning. so it should be here on the hill by now. [laughter] the third component of the program will construct projects authorizedreviously but not constructed at the time fall.ricane sandy's land potential projects identified for implementation following the investigation process and withins that will fall
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our continuing authorities program. expediteddesign, and reevaluations are underway for the 18 previously authorized but constructed projects and the corps anticipates construction will begin in early 2014. the corps expects to complete construction working on roughly half of these flood-risk projects by mid 2015. of the identified continuing projects, massachusetts, connecticut, new york, new jersey delaware, areland, and virginia currently scheduled to receive beach erosion and coastal storm damage risk reduction projects. and we expect 70% of this work by 2016.pleted there will always be residual ink for americans who live coastal regions. expected changes in sea level otherextreme weather, and impacts are likely to increase the risks fating these areas. -- facing these areas. together with noah and fema, the corps of engineers developed a helpevel rise tool to communities anticipate the
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influence of sea level rise. will use base flood elevation maps from fema, the coastal of noaah.pabilities and a sea level rise calculator engineers.rps of this tool yesterday was recognized by the president and awarded the green government climate change champion award. ourhe collaboration between agencies as a result of sandy has already produced a future-looking sustainability and tool that we can all use throughout the federal government. in addition, noaah and the corps of engineers are working moreher to help rebuild resilient and sustainable coastal communities. while working on post sandy york andefforts in new new jersey know ya and the corps set systems, rebuilding principles in order to promote a unified strategy for activities coast.oring the collaborative efforts on all levels continue to explore and that reducelution
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risk from coastal storms such as appropriate land use planning, non-structural solutions, and well communicated evacuation planning. mr. chairman, and members of the committee, i thank you for the opportunity and look forward to questions. >> thank you very much. our next speaker is ms. kathleen thai, chair of the recovery, accountability, and transparency board while continuing herr inspector general for the department of education. the board has been charged with dollars beingal spent on the sandy recovery. thank you for being here. >> thank you very much. mr. chairman, senators, i want the opportunity to appear before you today. as chair of the recovery board, i will be speaking to you about the board's roll and the inrsight of funds expended support of hurricane sandry recovery efforts. the boards with a created in february 2009 ooze part of the recovery act. it consists of 12 inspectors its mission to s to
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provide transparency of the use of recovery funds and to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse. we meet this mission by managing website through which recipients of recovery funds report and by spendingg that information in unique ways on our public website, we also develop the recovery operations center or what we as a central data analytics service to support fraud detection and prevention. roc has the ability to rapidly aggregate and analyze of dataomplex volumes to screen for potential risks or identify targets and provide deeper investigative information in the support of audits, prosecutionns and ises. while the board was originally due to sunset on september 30 of this year, the sandy legislation extended the board through 2015 with additional duties for the board to develop and use our resources and mechanisms to detect
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and remediate fraud, waste, and funds related to hurricane sandy. our oversight efforts related to have focused on applying the techniques and processes developed by the roc examine the spending, primarily working with our ig partners. theoordination with department of homeland security office of inspector general, we of 104 entityview that received hurricane sandy from 32emoval contracts cities in new york and new jersey totally over $329 million. among the particular risk dhsoigors we reported to were firms whose owners had liens, and state tax ones that had been listed on the federal list of suspended or bidders, and companies that had filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy and had federal tax liens. in addition to this work, we have provided assistance to dhsoig on its investigations of
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other fema, hurricane sandy grants, and toce other ig's and their sandy work. island,state of rhode we undertook a proactive analysis of 10,000 potential contractorsndy against our data bases that would show potential risks and reported information back to that state. in addition to our work in the website,re using our to information is available on hurricane sandy spending. we visually display hurricane sandy-awarded contracts from the federal procurement data system award information as well as links to fema spending by state and state hurricane .andy websites we also display the department of justice's disaster fraud .eporting hotline we are currently in the final stages of moving the hurricane sandy information to our website to be able to better use the .unctionalities of that website since commencing our working on
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hurricane sandy mission, we've identified a series of that we continue to face. the first is a painting accurate complete hurricane sandy spending data. with no mandated centralized such as in recovery, access to standardized data is limited. procurementderal data system and usa spending have information related to sandy, each has its limitations. for example, on usa spending, hurricane sandy grants and loans lack a unique identifier, making accuratelytic to extract and analyze hurricane sandy awards. subddition, the lack of recipient data will further complicate our work. given the types of hurricane sandy grants expected to be awarded, prime recipients of these awards oftentimes will be a state or a municipality but historically the majority of below this level by entities performing the actual work. my testimony. thank you for the opportunity to
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discuss the activities of the board. answering any to questions. >> thank you very much. for our last speaker, again, i want to thank you for being here. before i mention you and your title, i want to the sure the folks know for record we did invite representatives of both the new ork state and new york -- new jersey state government. they declined the invitation. so we're happy a local person is here. i appreciate that as a deputy onor for operations august 4, 2011, as deputy mayor, mr. holloway oversees offices including the police department, fire department, office of emergency management. mayor michael say bloomberg, but you had an legislation last night. i'm not sure what it is today. glad you're here. we appreciat it, especially from a local perspective. so, please. you very much, mr. chairman. just for clarification, the january 1.n is so i still have my job for the next 55 days. [laughter] does the mayor.
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>> very good. good afternoon, march and senators. -- mr. chairman and senators. thanks for the opportunity to testify about the role and toectiveness of federal aid new york city's recovery from hurricane sandy. i want to begin by thanking you behalf of mayor bloomberg and all new yorkers for answering new york city's call after the unprecedented devastation caused by hurricane sant sandy. from president obama and members includinginet, secretary donovan who's here today to entire agencies of the particularlynment, fema, hud, and the army corps of engineers, to assets including generators, fuel, food, and many others to the billions of dollars in recovery aid that available through the disaster relief appropriations act of 2013, what sandryfer to as the recovery bill. the federal government has been there for new york city since landfallre sandy made on the new jersey coast last october 29. sandy was the worst natural disaster to ever strike new york city. it took the lives of 44 new yorkers, caused unprecedented
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damage to public infrastructure and private property and onggered an enormous and doss going response. i will touch on the role of federal aid in three components recovery. before and up to five months after the storm the second stage thatng recovery efforts are underway now and will continue for the next 12 to 18 city's plan to protect and mitigate against the thatte-related impacts have become an increasingly life.nt part of everyday i'll start with the pre and immediate after sandy aid. our partnership with federal agencies began well before sandy moved up the east coast to the united states and took that left ward hook that would subject new york city to the storm's most devastating impacts. the city implemented its coastal storm plan, fema and the national weather service were us at the city's emergency operations center. and i was there for days. attest we had much support. though the storm did tremendous damage, the prestorm evacuation largelyn was
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successful. and post storm surveys indicate that most new yorkers knew about the storm, knew if they lived in theynerable area, and knew should eyak kuwait -- evacuate. after storm together with fema enat new york national guard we removed an estimated 700,000 tons of storm debris through some of the contracts that mrs. tighe mentioned. -- and the than defense logistics agency. distributed more than 2.1 million meals ready to eat and canvassed more than 100,000 areas tos in affected distribute food and water, sanitary items, and make referrals to healthcare case services. as we reported to you when congress took up the act, the estimatedred an $19.5 billion of damages due to nearlyrm including $5 billion in direct recovery costs, hundreds of homes were totally destroyed, thousands of famesly, families displaced. given the density of new york city and the challenge of relocating, mayo mayor bloombere
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it a priority to get people back into their homes. the entire -- the creativity of craig fugate and his team at fema, we developed fema called the shelter and temporary essential power program step. in store city we called it rapid repairs. rapid repairs was an innovative approach to shelter that is based on a simple premise, the best temporary shelter is shelter. step enabled the city to hire contractors to make emergency hot water and power repairs to victims' own homes. and only 110 days since we went into the first home on november 21, the city was able on 11, 800 repairs homes and multifamily buildings. enabled roughly 54,000 new yorkers to return to their homes. and our survey data indicates that many -- most people, the vast majority, are back in their althoughnew york city many still need to recover. i have -- have additional do all federal
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dollars are accounted for properly -- and we want to make sure they're properly spent. it's been a priority for new beginning.ince the will we have established monitoring programs overseen by the department of investigation the housing initiatives we have undertaken. we will continue this rigorous oversight. can provide reporting at any level that the committee would like. while rapid repairs helped thousands of new yorkers to move back into their homes, that was the beginning. thousands of families need much done to make a full recovery and make their homes able to better withstand climatetorms and other impacts. thanks to 15.2, it was 16 toortunately due sequestration, of community developed block grant funding, leadership of shaun donovan and the federal recovery taskforce, we launched build it back, a $700 million program in june, with the city's first cdbg funding and the basic idea is to help homeowners continue that recovery. avs october 31, nearly 26,000
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families have signed up for the and approximately 500 of those had homes that were destroyed. we have encouraged many new yorkers to seek this help and we're glad that they've done so. need and, the overall demand does exceed supplies. so we will need additional to make surend that the neediest get funding first.port we've prioritized by income level and those who are the most damaged. that between 55% and 60% of all of these applicants group our first priority and we're focusing on them. right now we're actually have 8,000d we people who are going through insurance verification processes, tier two environmental assessments, and secretary donovan's been very to streamlineing those processes to take advantage of the work the done.l government has at the homeowner and building level, the greatest remaining challenge for new yorkers is the affordability of flood
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insurance. members of this committee is well aware of it. the city commissioned an independent study that shows that only 35% of property owners the floodplain who were required to have flood insurance had premiums could go up for the new fema maps that are going to be o ing out from an average of $430 a year to $5,000 t to $10,000 a year. encouraged by the legislation working its way through to delay until affordability can be addressed in a real way. the greatest long-term challenge we face is protecting new yorkers over the term. at the same time that we are getting families back into their homes and repairing the city's principle structure, the mayor commissioned a study on the impacts that new york city will and the 2050's. the result is this plan, stronger, more resilient new york. i brought some extra copies for the committee. you can get it on our website, it has initiatives to protect of york city's 520 miles
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coastline as well as critical infrastructure and service term.ks over the long sandy took out huge segments of the power grid. 95% of the telecommunications network in this lower manhattan. it took out hospital row on 1st closing down hospitals around the city. achievable, an affordable way to mitigate the most -- most of these impacts otherhe next big storm or climate event, whether it's a flood, downpours or drought, city.ew york and we are on track to complete 43 critical milestones before year.d of the the army corps of engineers is one of our most important partners in this effort. we estimate more tha than $1.5 million of cubic yards lost.d were 3 million more cubic yards are on the way. i have to say having worked with for the lasts seven years, the work that they're doing on the beach right i've ever fastest seen them operate without exception. summarize?ve you
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you're a little over the limit. >> sorry about that. >> don't worry. your statement will be included record. >> great. i just want to note, new york do all of this recovery alone. there are many areas over which no control.le or the power grid, telecommunications, and other critical networks. and so we want to work with congress, with additional we'll get tohat make sure we can implement this plan. clearly we have a long way to go and we'll need additional allocations. but if the support we've received from congress and the far is anyernment so indication, i'm confident we'll be able to meet those needs and better prepare new york for climate challenges come next. i'm happy to answer any questions. >> fantastic. thank you very much. to go to the ranking member and then i'll come back to me and then down to the other here.mbers that are senator paul? >> thank you. .hank you i grew up on the gulf coast, so i know about hurricanes from personal experience. of you tryingall
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to help in the aftermath of a .errible hurricane question for secretary donovan. do you think that sandy relief on tvought to be spent ads? >> i assume what you're referring to, senator is that aere has been an effort in number of states not just in well but historically as in many, many prior storms to economic development. we did see a small amount of cdbg money that was used for an tonomic development campaign encourage people back to the beaches. >> do you think it's a good idea or bad idea? we've --idence that >> spending funds on tv ads. >> the evidence that we have campaigns arehose effective in growing economic development in those areas. and, therefore, they actually reduce the cost of recovery to government.
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>> i don't think we need to argue about whether ads work. ads work. but do you think ads for sandy relief should be spent on tv ads? yes or no? idea, bad idea? >> as i said, we looked at the have seen itwe encourages economic development. >> my understanding is you all a waiveyou have to give tore do this. >> senator, if i could -- the community development block flexiblea very program. this is clearly within the legal of what congress has determined the program can be used for. waswe were -- it demonstrated to us that this could be an effective tool. and actually lower the cost of government. >> it gives a little bit of a black eye to something that going to a of it is good purpose. but i would say that if i were in your position, i would have tod no, we're not going spend ads. here's another problem. some of these ads people running their mug all over these ads while they're in the middle of a political campaign. jersey 25 million was
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spent on ads that included somebody running for political office. be ahink there might conflict of interest there? that's a real problem. people o who are trying to do good and trying to use taxpayers' money wisely, to see ourended money spent on political ads. that's just offensive. have ayork, you actually rule. they're not allowed to do it. sox new york did the same thing -- so new york did the object, butwhich i at least they didn't put someone's fate face on the ad ad their family. a i think, yeah, come to new jersey but it's like, i don't want to pay for ads for advertising out of sandy relief fund it gives the whole thing a black eye. it isn't just sandy relief funds. we spent $684 million for obama care. well, it's a fairly contentious issue that was very partisan and one party. should we then get to spend taxpayer money advertising for political purposes? i don't think a penny of taxpayer money should go to advertising. advertising.
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here's the other criticism. outle appointed -- pointed it's taken a while for money to get to people. i think it was like one article homeownerouse or one in one instance coming for an department yet the money tv got through quickly. when people want to advertise and promote themselves, all of a sudden, bowed 3w5078, money -- boom, money is on tv it and so is their ad. just ask -- i know you want to do the right thing. not it's awhether or good idea. my understanding is it took a waiver from your office to use for this and that the tv ads had to be approved in that sense by your office. is, there have been community development grants given to something called a river festival in manhattan. i sure hope none of this money i don't to it and that find in and out a year the river festival got money for this. because the river festival is and of all kinds of great groovy things like performance art, bunch of people showing up their cell phone up playing the same songs.
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that would be a lot of fun. i would thereof attend. going toe we're not find sandy relief money went to stuff like that. as you said, community block anything. go to so i sure hope that someone is watching the taxpayers' dollar. all i have. thank you. >> thank you very much. secretary donovan, can i follow up? clear to make sure we're on one thing. the cdbg money, as a former mayor and i think now senator say the same thing, it can't be used for anything. there's limitations. correct? >> exactly correct. i did not say it could be used for anything. clear statutory purposes. sure thatd and made it did meet those purposes. if congress determines that development campaigns should not be included, then obviously that could be added to legislation. but currently they are within bounds of the law. >> let me get to a broader question. that -- i have a chart i've seen. i'm trying to analyze this. fema -- i think i know the answer, but i want to have at
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least a three agency people, other than fema, answer this. feelia, when i look at the money -- fema, when i look at the money of appropriated, obligated, expendeds, you're fairly high up there. you've moved the money out the there. the other is in the process or not as much in the percentages's so maybe if i could start with secretary donovan and then go to ie next two, just so understand why there's a lag -- i think i know the answer, but i hear thiske sure i for the record. i understand fema, because you've got to get in there. you don't have the luxury of years and bring the money after the fact. so help me understand that. because that's one of the a lot of that i get times when they see the reports and say -- where's the money being spent? i start with you? >> absolutely. importantis is a very point. one of the things that's critical to understand is by law is only allowed to be used on otherthat are not met by
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funding sources. >> so you're the last bucket. step are the third effectively for homeowners, for small businesses. we've seen very consistently that fema moved to make that first allocation. but only up to $30,000 can be used for homeowners, for examp example. and that takes care of the damage. you must make sure that your insurance company has paid their claim. and that process needs to happen. twothen only when those have been utilized can we then make cdbg available. why cdbg only began to pay out more recently. let me just give you one comparison. at the point where we are today, since the appropriation was made by congress, we are more than wereaster in sandy than we under katrina. we are more than 300% faster on cdbg.ere in ike
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so clearly we have improved the process. do?there things we could legislatively or within our own power to make it faster? yes. we are working on many of those things. but relatively speaking, i think we both have been faster and more careful in the way we're using cdbg money in this storm. i move -- i ask you, some of those ideas at some point legislatively or regulatory, you can share those with the committee at some point? so if there's things we could be asng to help in the future, we continue to improve that flow, that would be helpful. >> absolutely. theuld just compliment committee on having made many changes for sandy that have sped up spending already. >> very good i was going to ask you if i have time, i'll ask about the bridge issue and how used the techniques. i want to know more about that. >> mr. chairman, thanks. question.nt the transportation funding that was provided in the supplemental is being used for very specific transportation purposes. .nd i'll quickly go through the federal aviation
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administration with the direct appropriation is -- has repaired damage to the three major airports in the region. that is work that we've done contractorr with forces. the federal highway releasedation first money within hours of requests under what we call quick release authority to get the work rebuilding the highway system. then its emergency relief program operates on a reimbursable basis. done. work gets it's done by state or local governments. and the federal government reimburses at the end. that is a way that we protect and make sure that we get the it shouldilt the way be. flan this case with some resiliency for the future. transit program, we've made extensive use of what we call pre-award authority. specific transit projects as part of the sandy recovery have given pre-award authority where the transit agency will be building those facilities
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according to federal reimburseds and then as part of the process. that's a way to get project underway quickly and make sure get the product that the taxpayers deserve. >> very good. jo-ellen? i said in in my opening statement, we have several money. of some for investigations, which is ongoing studies, as well as our comprehensive study. spend-out rate is not as quick as would be for our emergency money. had,mergency money that we we've expended nearly most of our expenditures. completed in be the early part of next year. those were the repairs to our existing projects. repairing the sand dunes that had been devastated. third bucket is for construction. had 18're doing is we projects that were authorized but unconstructed. and some of those projects had several yearsd ago. so what we're doing now is looking at those projects to see whether in the light of climate change and sea level rise,
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whether those projects are still -- will be sustainable and resilient. so that study is the less expenditure. but once we go through that study process, once we do the engineereconstruction and design which is a smaller amount of money, once we get to the actual construction, that's outlays.see the >> one quick question. then i'm going to go to the members. five-minute to do rounds. ca srks i'm going to speak in a moment. i'm going to substitute myself back to my mayor days. the frustration always with the organizations was they would get this money and then you'd hope and pray it would at some pointou in some rational deliverable way. me your sense of how that workedded or could have givebeen main maybe later recommendations, how did that work? cdbg, i don't know if it went directly to state or local. tell me how that
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worked when money went to the state? it?you're there waiting for >> well in this case, mr. the funding -- new york city got its own direct allocation, which was great for .s the level of damage that we totained and our ability take those resources and really start working with them strong.ely is really so far the allocation that have come, there's a separate of newion for the state york and new york city has gotten its own allocations from it's beenective, great. >> that's worked? >> yes. >> let me stop there. i have additional questions but go to senator booker. >> senator from new york, who has a wonderful view of new jersey would like to go first go.use she has someplace to >> please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you very much, senator booker. work you've all the done and every single one of you has done extraordinary work in terms of getting money flowing, getting


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